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PMDC Dissolution, Employees’ Termination; Peshawar High Court Responds

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench recently issued notifications to the ministries of national health services and law in regards to their response concerning a petition contradicting the dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and termination of its staff members through a presidential ordinance.

An employee of the dissolved PMDC, Faridullah Khan, filed the petition, requesting the court to declare the Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance, 2019, unconstitutional.

The petitioner also requested the court to declare the cessation of his employment and Section 49 of the Ordinance through which the services of PMDC employees were terminated unconstitutional. Additionally, he requested the court to order the government to restore his services with all due benefits.

After the preliminary hearing, the bench issued notices to the respondents, including the Federation of Pakistan through the National Health Services and Federal Law secretaries asking them to respond to the petition on the next hearing.

Deputy Attorney General, Ahmad Saleem, accepted the notice on behalf of the federal government.

President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the impugned Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance last month, paving the way for the dissolution of the PMDC and establishment of the PMC in its place.

The ordinance has already been challenged in the Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court by different petitioners.

Fazle Wahid Khan, the lawyer for the petitioner, said that under the terms and conditions of services, all employees appointed under the PMDC Ordinance had the statutory right to continue their employment until superannuation.

He said changes were made to the PMDC Ordinance from time to time and that in 2012, the PMDC (Amendment) Act was enacted, making several changes to the ordinance, including regarding the composition of the council.

The lawyer said further amendments were made through ordinances promulgated in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Supreme Court had declared the council constituted under the 2015 ordinance illegal and formed an ad hoc council ordering the holding of fresh elections in accordance with the law, he said.

The lawyer, however, added that the government promulgated an ordinance early in 2019 in contravention of that judgment, and the Senate disapproved that on August 29.

He said after the disapproval of the ordinance, the president promulgated the impugned PMC Ordinance, 2019, without the cabinet’s prior approval repealing Section 50 of the PMDC Ordinance, 1962, and dissolving the PMDC.

The lawyer said the matters relating to the medical profession and education were delegated to the PMC, which consisted of the Medical and Dental Council, the National Medical and Dental Academics Board, and the National Medical Authority.

He said the ordinance was the reproduction of previous ordinances and was meant to favor blue-eyed persons.

The lawyer said the Supreme Court had declared in 2018 that re-promulgation of ordinances, especially when earlier ones were either not approved or disapproved by parliament, was a fraud on the constitution and a subversion of the democratic legislative process.

He said Section 49 of the Ordinance was in conflict with Article 8 of the Constitution as the same had allowed the government to terminate the regular services of the PMDC employees.

The lawyer said the PMDC offices were sealed without any plausible reason. -PR

November 15, 2019

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